HSPT® Prep: A Superintendent’s Response to an HSPT® Test Prep Provider

As you may know, STS does not support or endorse any formal student test preparation for the High School Placement Test. This view is also shared by many of the schools who use HSPT® every year. See below for a clearly articulated view of HSPT® test preparation from a superintendent.

Dear Test Prep Provider,

I received a copy of your flyer from one of our principals.  The Catholic High School administrators and I have discussed your test prep program on several occasions over the past few years.

It has been my understanding from Dr. John Kauffman, STS, that he neither endorses nor recommends that students from Catholic elementary schools take a test prep course for the HSPT®.  Dr. Kauffmann believes that 8 or 9 years of Catholic school education is all that is necessary for students to do well on the HSPT®.  As a matter of fact, all of the qualified 8th grade students in our Catholic elementary schools are accepted into one of our Catholic high schools.

Additionally, I am concerned about the message this sends to our parents. Your message implies that the investment they have made in their child’s Catholic elementary school education now needs augmenting in order to get into a Catholic high school. Parents and students are anxious enough about the prospect of going to high school.  It appears to me that your HSPT® prep program is feeding on their anxiety and creating a need where none exists.

I suspect that you are well intended.  However, I will discourage our elementary school principals from offering, supporting, or endorsing your test prep program to our eighth grade students and their parents.

Sincerely yours,
Ms. Maureen Huntington
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Archdiocese of San Francisco


With the beginning of a new year, many parents may be wondering about their child’s HSPT® results. While many assume that the HSPT® score distribution system is similar to college entrance exams, it is actually quite different because there is no national coding system for the HSPT®.

Many high schools test independently, so the results for the students that test there are sent only to that school. In some geographic regions, a cooperative of high schools test collectively, often under the direction of a Catholic diocesan education department. In these cases, students may be presented with the option of sending their scores to several different high schools by coding them on their answer sheet on that test day. These answer sheets need to be correctly coded to ensure that the results are sent to the appropriate school(s).

When testing in a cooperative program, the scoring of test results is often delayed until all of the program’s answer sheets are in. When the STS Scoring Center has completed the scoring, results are then sent back to the school where the child tested as well as to the school(s) the child coded. Whether the school tests individually or cooperatively, the act of distributing test results to students and their families are always determined by the school or diocese. Therefore,  results are often not sent directly to the student’s home.

If you have not yet received a copy of your test results and you believe you should have or if you need to have your scores sent to another high school, the first step is to contact the school where the child tested. Since the schools and dioceses determine their own score distribution system, we cannot send results to a student or parent.

Getting Kids Off to a Good Start

austin_809The lazy days of summer will soon make way for the responsibilities of another school year. Parents everywhere are busy assembling school supplies, shopping for new clothes, and attending back to school events. Getting back into the swing of your school year activities is important and not difficult to do. With a bit of effort, organization, and a positive attitude, preparing for the back to school transition will be smooth and your child will be ready for the first day of school.

Set expectations for the new school year

Define what you would like to achieve this year. Do you want to work on the amount of television your child watches? Will you make lunches every morning, which calls for adjusting the time for your morning run? At what time do you expect to sit down each night to review homework? Now is a good time to decide your goals. Remember to consider your flexibility and schedule, as well as your child’s strengths and weaknesses when defining your expectations.

Create your routine

A family routine is a fantastic way to keep everyone on track. You can create a family bulletin board, calendar, or place post it notes on the refrigerator. Describe tasks you expect your children to undertake during the school year. Communicate it clearly with the whole family and make expectations easily understood.

Get organized early

Make sure you have the supplies needed for assignments not only for school but at home as well. If reading was not part of your child’s summer activities, add it to your daily routine now. Reviewing last year’s math will prepare your child for new challenges in the new year.

Get to know school administrators and teachers

Research shows that the more involved parents are in the child’s school, the better the child will perform. Volunteer for school related activities within the limitations of your busy schedule. Introduce yourself to the school principal during an event, and correspond with your child’s teachers via email when possible.

Have Some Fun

A new school year is fun and exciting time for children, and sometimes it can be a scary time too. So stay positive. Talk to them about their fears. And once you get them talking, listen and digest it. Remind them that their new worries only stick around for a little while. Visit the school for orientation. Take your child to check out the school playground, or discuss new sports and activities they would like to get involved in. Returning to the classroom should be something your child looks forward to. Be creative and make it fun!

The Importance of the Teacher-Parent Relationship

71609_blogA recent study by the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute analyzed the characteristics and impact of the high rate of teacher mobility within the Chicago Public School (CPS) system. While CPS findings are not substantially greater than that of other large, urban districts, the results are staggering nonetheless.

The study found that schools, which are located in high poverty areas with large minority populations, lose more than half of their teachers within five years. CPS teacher turnover rates were most severe in the 100 lowest scoring/achieving schools. These low achieving schools also tend to be located in high crime areas and lose nearly a third of their teachers every year. Teachers from these schools attributed their high rate of turnover to student misbehavior, lack of leadership and incentives, safety issues, and, significantly, lack of parental support.

Studies show that schools that retain their teachers at high rates are those with strong, inclusive leadership and supportive parents, who are active in their child’s education. Thus, the teacher/parent relationship is a powerful component for fostering student and teacher stability in the classroom.

Feel free to share your thoughts about building successful teacher/parent partnerships in our schools with us.